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Important Health Benefits of Flaxseed

If you haven’t met up with flaxseed yet, it might be time to think about adding it to your diet. As reported by Care2 Healthy Living, flaxseed is a versatile seed that contains healthful omega-3s and fiber. It also contains lignans, which are strong anti-oxidants with important hormone-balancing qualities.

Lignans are a type of plant compound known as polyphenols. Although lignan precursors are most abundant in flaxseeds, they’re also found in other seeds (like sesame seeds), berries, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

When you consume lignan precursors, bacteria in your gut convert the “plant” lignans into “human” lignans, including enterodiol and enterolactone, which have weak estrogenic activity. The anti-estrogenic effects of lignans (i.e. their ability to block the effects of estrogen in some tissues) could potentially help reduce the risk of hormone-associated cancers (breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate).

Additionally, eating a diet rich in plant lignans may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Research also shows that adding flaxseeds to your diet may have a favorable effect on cholesterol levels, although it’s unknown at this time if that’s due to the lignans or other heart-healthy nutrients or phytochemicals found in flaxseeds (such as plant-based omega-3s or fiber).

Besides flaxseeds and sesame seeds, the best food sources for lignans are curly kale, broccoli, apricots, cabbage, brussels sprouts and strawberries. You may need to consume 50 to 100 mg of lignans a day to reach beneficial levels, which is the equivalent of three or four tablespoons of unrefined ground flaxseed per day. You can find beneficial lignans in supplement form, but it’s better to get them straight from food sources.
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